We know how our Strongside Linebacker and Weakside Linebacker are all ready. Those spots are set with Ben Leber and Donnie Edwards. What we don’t know is who our Middle Linebacker is going to be. That is a battle right now between Carlos Polk and Zeke Moreno. You could add Matt Wilhelm, but I just don’t think he is ready yet to step up to that position.
I watched the Linebackers for a little while on Saturday and I believe that Moreno is going to be hard pressed to be beaten out at the middle linebacker spot. He has a nose for the ball and is a good tackler. Even during the mini camp session, he never gave up on the play and on one play while a speedy receiver caught the ball and was going down he reached around and stripped the ball from him and scooped it up and headed towards the end zone. Those are the type of plays that he makes when he is in the game. He always seems to have a high tackle rate and is always attacking the ball.
Let’s talk about the other Linebackers, the ones that are battling for the Linebacker spots on this team. Many feel Carlos Polk is going to beat out Moreno but I just don’t see it. He has been a standout on special teams the last few years but I just don’t see him beating out Moreno (have I mentioned I don’t think he will beat out Moreno yet?).
I don’t think his concentration is where it should be and he is slow to react towards plays, but when he does react -- man look out! This kid can lay the lumber. As I said, this is my personal opinion from the observations that I picked up from Last Saturday’s mini camp.
The other linebacker that I was not very impressed with was Wilhelm. He looked slow out there and out of place. His reaction was off and several times I saw him burned by Tight Ends or picked up on blitzes. What turned me off the most about him though was afterwards, during the autograph signing, he was so non-chalant and unfriendly compared to the other players. He hardly talked to anyone and did not look like he really wanted to be out there.
Stephen Cooper looked good, he was a little slow and lumbering going thorough the drills but out on the field in 11 on 11 drills all of that went away. He seemed to be at home all over the tight ends and backs when they went out and picked up receivers well as they went across the middle. I think of the rookie linebackers he has looked the best to me.
The kid that really impressed me the most was Jordan Kramer, the kid out of Idaho. Man was he fast. His movements were very fluid through the drills. The one fault I have seen of him was he did not react as quickly as you would like on some plays. He did have great closing speed on the receivers and backs and was always around the ball. The one thing I thought of is -- someone to replace Orlando Ruff and Zeke (if he gets the Middle Backer spot). Kramer has the ability and drive to take on that position.
Jude Waddy seemed to always get caught by Andrew Pinnock every time he tried to blitz. Other than that, I liked his reaction on the pass plays and on the drills/ He seemed to pick up the backs and tight ends with no problem and even swatted a few balls away.
I will be honest I did not see a hole lot of LeMarcus McDonald, but from talking with other fans and reporters I understand he is having a pretty good camp and I hope to have more on him when Camp starts up in Carson.
I really like our prospects at Linebacker. With Seau gone, Edwards seemed to take on the role of leader in that group and the young guys seem to rally around him. He has a great disposition and the fans love him. I think he could help whip these guys in to shape no matter who the Middle backer is. My Personal pick is Zeke, I said in a few articles back I thought he was the heir apparent to Seau and now is his time to prove it.
No matter who it is, I think we will be strong at linebacker this year. With Zeke and Carlos in their 3rd years and Ben in his 2nd year, these guys are ready to play with no excuses, and no regrets. One thing is sure: the San Diego Chargers have Linebackers Galore at their disposal.
Tom Criswell (the controversial one) can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the following link: Tom Criswell